Bookmarks and Big Screens: Austenland

By Ellie Trebilcock

Is the book or the movie better?

It’s the most controversial topic between bookworms and movie-buffs. To resolve the long battle between these two passionate types of media consumers, I will compare and evaluate the quality of the book and movie versions of the story.

{***SPOILER ALERT***}

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This Month: Austenland by Shannon Hale

I decided to switch up my blog routine this month and review the movie version of Austenland before reading the book. Although the movie holds a special place in my heart, I promise to keep an open mind about the book and rate it fairly.

Austenland follows Jane Hayes (played by Keri Russell), a woman obsessed with the works of Jane Austen. After many failed relationships, Jane decides to escape reality and spend all of her money on a immersive Austen-themed resort experience. While staying at the resort, Jane struggles to find her own Mr. Darcy.

If you’re a Jane Austen fan, like me, you’ll love all of the references to her books in Austenland. However, if you ever romanticized the regency era, the movie will also make it clear to you why you would never want to live during that time period.

The movie is also laugh-out-loud funny! Jennifer Coolidge plays Jane’s friend Elizabeth Charming in the film. Everything that comes out of Coolidge’s mouth will have you rolling on the floor in laughter. Austenland is silly and outrageous and everything a nerdy book-lover would want in a comedy.

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After watching the movie, I made a trip down to the local library and checked out the book version of Austenland. Here are some of my thoughts after reading:

  • Different Beginning?

In the book version, Jane inherits a trip to go to the Austen resort inside her recently departed great-aunt. In my opinion, this is not as satisfying as the movie version where she decides to spend her life savings to go to Austenland.  This plot point shows how enthralled Jane is with the works of Austen and the extent to which she goes to satisfy her obsession.

  • List of awful boyfriends?

Each chapter starts out with a short description for Jane’s past boyfriends. In my opinion, these short portrayals of her failed relationships provide the character with a strong backstory. Jane turned to fantasy in order to cope with rejection and protect herself.

  • *Sigh* Another love triangle???

My biggest literary pet-peeve is love triangles. In my opinion, love triangles do not provide any character or relationship development to the story. Love triangles only stall the relationship between the two main characters that everyone wants to get together in the first place. Therefore, my one disappointment in both the book and the movie is the introduction of a love triangle. How could Jane even consider Martin (the Wickham character of the story) when she could have Mr. Darcy (Henry)!?!?

Final Rating:

Movie- 5 stars

Book- 4½ stars

Calling all Jane Austen aficionados! Both the book and the movie versions is the perfect modern Austen story that will make you wish there is actually an Austenland. I rated the movie better than the book because I am super impressed with Jennifer Coolidge, who improvised almost every one of her hilarious lines. If you are lover of anything Austen, I highly suggest you read and watch Austenland.

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Related:

Meet the Interns: Ellie Trebilcock

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Me Before You

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Dances with Wolves

Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Giver